Yearly Archives: 1999

FAQ

What is Aknyra Otyemnotation?
A New Year’s resolution.

Which New Year’s resolution?
I try to have only one resolution a year. Last year’s was to watch more movies, which I did, though it took time. This year’s resolution is to climb back on a horse that I’ve not looked after for quite some time. This year I will Be A Writer.

What will you write about?
Deep stuff, shallow stuff, tall stuff, short stuff. Personal stuff, work stuff, political stuff, general stuff. Stuff. You know how it is.

Well, who are you then?
I am an Elizabethan Victorian analyst/programmer. I do a lot of work with the web, something that I fell in love with at university. I dream. I’m an idealist. I am an atheist and a bisexual. I have a messy room. I have a lot of Star Wars action figures. Doctor Who has had a big effect on my life. Who am I? Who am I? Who is anyone? Read on…

Rework

  1. The importance of weblogs
  2. Tools of the trade
  3. Responsibility
  4. The point

“Today I trapped many errors, killed many processes.”

Eh?

“And I kept on losing my shoes.”

What??

“I had to reboot many times.”

Ah, geek humour.

I wrestled muchly over the last few days to get this page looking nice. People were hitting me with Version 4 browsers, so I decided to try, once again, to see if I had a single aesthetically-pleasing design bone in my body. I like.

IE users will get a rude message (to tell them what they already know or) to help encourage awareness of the state the web is in today. I’m actually testing on IE5, dunno how 4 looks yet.

Netscape renders closer to the reference (Opera) than IE, but looks all rough-hewn. The kiddie version. The important thing, though, is not that the scribble goes over the lines, but that they’ve generally followed the lines. (Mozilla M10 (a Netscape 5 alpha) renders the page correctly. It hates the javascript though.)

Mac users, Mac users… Ah. I don’t have access to a Macintosh, so I cannot say what it looks like to you. Do you have the Verdana or Arial fonts? If not, perhaps you could mail me with font suggestions. Don’t tell me what they look like, it’ll be a fun experiment.

(MMmm, Macintoshes. I really do dislike the iMac design. They’re an exercise in ugliness, mocking me with 19th century technology. But! an engineering masterpiece. How do they run so cool? My computer has about 6 fans! Mmmm.)

It looks like, what with work, “life”, my girlfriend, and whatnot, this page’ll be updated weekly.

The importance of weblogs

Death to people who used a dimmed colour for normal links and bright colours for visited links! Most regularly-visited offender: Dave Winer. And Dave’s plan seems to be to make the world’s weblogs look like his site! Aaargh!

Weblogs and such are important (I think I’m “and such” no matter what you prefix it with) so we should put some effort into making them nice. Why are they important?

In 20 years we won’t say anything original. All our speech will have been pre-figured by the media.

In 20 more we won’t be speaking, just giving the addresses of websites for conversations that’ve already happened. Readymade speech! “Ballard,” says Duchamp!

This formulation is also small-weblog friendly. You don’t have to be Slashdot! I don’t want to be Slashdot. Calm down, say what you want. ‘sall good, as someone else once said…

So start making nice. Is it “unprofessional” to link to a directory? Am I professional? Are you? Does it matter? This obviously caused some cognitive dissonance with one of my friends. What do you think? Give me feedback.

I’m gonna do some thinking about presentation of past content, but in the interim, if you’ve got any ideas, I’d love to listen. The calendar is one popular idea, but I think that I want more flexibility than that. Possibly my posts are too infrequent to rely on a calendar. I think I’d like to be able to thread by subject too. Hmmm.

Tools of the trade

Here we have an eGroups forum for bloggers. Philip Greenspun has many interesting tools which I’m looking at using, such as dicussion forums. Atomz provides free site search for when the site gets bigger. I think I saw all of these ideas on Jorn’s Robot Wisdom.

Responsibility

Why do politicians seek a mandate? Trying for that small-tribe agreement? They really are obssessed by mandates, the moment they’re elected, they’re all the same. I blame Howard for bringing this back into the current vogue. Fucking hell, we vote for all of them, not just the Prime Minister, not just the “Government”, not just the Upper House. Politicians have a mandate to exist is all.

By the same token the referendum has told us nothing more than that the Australian people don’t want a particular model of Republican. Very useful. I’ve been very guilty of allotting reasons to the voters. I’m sorry. It’s very tempting, very thought-provoking. I’ve found recently that asking and being asked questions is an excellent way to live. You don’t know it all. You can’t. Don’t feel bad.

The vote appears to be divided along city/country lines. This requires deep analysis, not headlines. Ssh, it could be important.

But speaking of the immediate, I think it’s bizarre how the Electoral Commission displays vote counts. Everything’s expressed in percentages of the vote counted so far, helping the mediated perception that there’s a race being run. There is no race! Or it’s a race that’s already run. Now we’re wandering over the track like beginner blacktrackers trying to determine who won. Yesterday Yes, Today No, Tomorrow… lunacy! And the media still think they can tell me why!

Meanwhile everyone’s picking the bones of the ARM, completely forgetting Howard’s role in the pitiful republican model (though lets not excuse the ARM). What a memory! I thought I was bad.

I think in my first column I think I should have labelled “Australian” as one of my epiphets. Obviously. :)

The point

This issue’s just a bit of housekeeping and waving the flag. I’m meditating. I won’t leave you waiting too long, ’cause to quote from the Cult of the Dead Cow (via Slashdot):

THE POINT
by Bryan O’Sullivan
you could spend an hour counting the petals in a flower
it might take you a year to count the veins in each petal
if you spent ten lifetimes, maybe you could count its cells
but you’d have completely missed the point
you fuckhead

Go see Fight Club! It blew me away! Sam Jones is Tyler Durden!

Here’s a temporary method to link to the last issue.

Jump in!

Monday, 8 November 1999

Here’s some words of wisdom. (Brings to mind Nielson and Derrida.) The language Nazis are always with us, loving our language to death. Sometimes I’m one.

Joke: I have a theory that no amount of humans in finite time could possibly come up with and collate and distribute the amount of jokes we receive daily. I think the internet is sentient (a la Clarke or King), and this is a manifestation of that fact.

Are these lone human responses to the complex system humanity has become? Are our thoughts and desires shaped by a smaller world that our backbrain remembers?

Some lessons on the World Wide Web

Ted Nelson is the putative father of hypertext, and hence the web. He never got his appropriately-named Xanadu system off the ground. Ted’s obssession seemed to be copyright (and micropayments, a fascination he shares with Jakob Nielson). Did he address the problem of addresses?

Dave’s laws of conventional business web addresses are as follows:

  1. Make it begin in www. and end in .com
  2. Make it easy to remember
  3. Make it obvious to spell
  4. Make it easy to type
  5. Buy as many mispellings of the address as you can
  6. Use it everywhere

These are a must if you want people to get to your web site. These are demands made partly by the current Domain Name System, but also by the way we’re wired. Disobey and you’ll be burnt.

These people advertise themselves variously as SiliconValley.com and SV.com. Massachusetts dub themselves the “dot commonwealth”. Asking for it.

But think of a good name. It’s taken.

The problem is that the DNS has flattened all trademarks into the one space, so there’s a lot of collisions between companies with common names like ‘Apple’ or ‘Prime’, making it hard. (I wonder if, in the future, people will want distinctive names, like Aknyra? What advances will we have to make to use such names?) The namespace is becoming increasingly unusable. Some people advocate alternative systems, such as using http://come.to/. I’m considering it myself, but can’t help that we’re sowing the seeds of destruction.

Jerry Scharf is right we need a better system. Maybe we should be sowing the seeds of destruction of the current system, so we can replace it. I’m not sure if a Bob and David’s simple directory is the trick (certainly the phone number suggestions seem regressive), but we certainly need more people advocating a new system. Tim Berners-Lee was right in the beginning, humans should never have to deal with addresses.

Surely we can do better than the phone system? Surely we shouldn’t have to be doing such low-level plumbing? Next year is the year 2000, damn it, the year we don’t have to take this kind of shit anymore. Repeat after me.

I mentioned Ted Nelson at the start of this note(?) because he proposed rich links between pages (forget about addresses, just think of the bindings between pages). In such a model I could potentially unobtrusively give referrer information in my links (i.e. the Wired link came from Robot Wisdom, and Bob’s link came from Dan Bricklin’s log (netfame: co-creator of VisiCalc) (and I’ll give you two guesses what their respective addresses are)).

I also mention Ted because he envisaged a pervasive system, one that wouldn’t suffer from linkrot (Jakob Nielson’s (IMHO good) word). He probably wouldn’t have approved of Wired maintaining multiple versions of their pages, or me linking to the For Printing version.

Just to link back to Ted’s favourite thought, check out the source code (more evil plumbing!) for the Experimenta page (they had their address on a pamphlet).

But this is all in the spirit of Tim Berners-Lee and Marc Andreesen’s web.

Citylink

Last night I watched a bit of the Sly Stallone movie ‘Daylight’. A tunnel with water pissing into it put me in mind of the southern tunnel of Transurban’s Citylink project.

Citylink tolling is like a folktale: it was supposed to have happened sometime in the past.

This sort of gross mismanagement is what you point to when people talk
glowingly about the State of Jeff.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Republic

Everyone wanted the new laws to be perfect. Yet it comes out that so much of our Government is convention. Do things work better because detailed laws are written? Do we need more detailed laws concerning our government? Could things work just as well or better with looser laws? Can we avoid a litigation state, like America, whose paranoia we see every night reflected in shows like The Practice and Ally McBeal?

So much of our government is based on individuals. If a member dies or retires, a by-election must be held, they can’t simply be replaced by their party. So why does our government orbit around the two party system? Could we have more than two major parties? Could we have no dominant parties?

What stops two parties from remaining forever? (Not just here, but in America and Britain, or elsewhere, too.)

A few notes on XML

Everyone’s talking about XML. This is confusing. Does everyone talk about SGML? No, they talk about HTML. Do we use a content-type of text/sgml? No, we use text/html. So why should we use text/xml? People’re seduced and people’re confused.

Don’t tell people that XML is a language, it confuses them. Tell them XML is a set of rules for creating a markup language.

And XML can’t do everything! I can’t even do sets in XML, for instance:

<set1> a b c <set2> d e f </set1> g h i </set2>

XML does promise to be good set of rules for producing some very useful languages. One thing it will do (hopefully) is bring the web closer to Ted’s Xanadu. Smarter linking, smarter pages.

Bookmarklets

Why wait? Smarter linking and pages can be achieved with script today. Robot Wisdom pointed me to the wonderful idea of Bookmarklets. You can have a link to a search engine that pops up a little box for keywords. You can have a daily surfing link that pops up ten windows to your favourite sites.

So a small correction is in order for my rant(?) on browsers. Lets be proactive. No new addressing system for browsers. We don’t like frames, lets be rid of them. It is common practice for commercial sites to have a Bookmark Me link. They could also supply two pieces of javascript, one behind the link to generate a URL like suggested yesterday, and one in a frameset that will parse the query string of a URL and populate itself with the appropriate frames.

Aus Musos

Andrew Bowie is an exemplar of those net people who liked something and, instead of creating the definitive link page to resources on that topic (next Tuesday), has gone and created an excellent resource on that topic. Check out Preshrunk (warning: frames). Typical of his kind, he’s created a much better home on the web for this band than their official page.

Andrew also takes care of Under the Covers (warning: frames), a covers and live Faith No More site.

Issue 2

Agitprop?

In the last day or two there’s been a number of weblog-based attacks on Jakob Nielson. I don’t understand why. His useit.com is the No. 1 place to go for information on usability as far as I can see.

I’ve been thinking about the longer term aspects of keeping my site in order and adding value to the information I’ll be spitting out. I haven’t arrived at any conclusions yet, but the link to follow if you’re interested in hypertext theory and practice, or just the best damn weblog on the net is Robot Wisdom, Jorn Barger’s web site.

Building a better browser

I have my web page set to a width of 600 pixels. This should keep the text within the optimum reading length for most font sizes on most displays. My intro page yesterday paradoxically needs greater than 800 pixels on my monitor, yet will work just fine on an ancient terminal using Lynx. Welcome to the web. Don’t like it? Take control.

Not enough people take control of their experience, which is why I’ve set the page width. I don’t want y’all out there with 19 and 21″ monitors giving yourself an eye strain injury. Learn to resize your window, don’t just maximise.

Don’t like it? Get a better browser that’ll let you break out of the page designer’s tyranny. I use Opera, which’ll let me turn Table formatting off, amongst other things. Internet Explorer has a few features that show what a user-centred browser could be like. Opera has more. I’m going to propose some here.

UNIX has had smart command line completion for decades. Why can’t browsers? IE and Netscape aren’t up to snuff. Opera actually hinders you in this area by using Titles rather than addresses.

Email clients have address processing. Why can’t I, in my browser, say “I don’t want you to remember any subaddresses to this site” (for instance, sites that use dynamic addressing) or “I don’t want you to remember this address” (for instance, when you make a typo)? Similarly I want better control over cookies.

An addressing system for frames. Frames are evil, but they’re a fact of life. Why can’t we yet have an addressing system for them like http://www.fnord.com/frameset.html?top=banner.html&middle=content.html&bottom=addressbar.html?

A way to get at HTTP headers, cookies and the like. Sometimes some people want to know what’s going on. A way to edit this information would be handy too.

MDI. A gazillion browser windows are unacceptable. I want more control. Opera has made a good start, but I need it to remember more about what state I left my workspace in.

More control over how things are displayed. Opera allows me to turn off redirects or spawning windows. I’d also like to be able to break windows out of frames.

More control over how things are displayed, redux. Opera allows me to zoom in and out on a document. How about split screens too, so I can see the beginning and end of a document? And what about allowing me to specify what size I want the window?

More control over what things are displayed. Opera allows me to specify whether I want images loaded, not loaded, or loaded from cache. I’d like to be able to turn off a specific image and I’d like to be able to cache specific images indefinitely. In addition to the window-level formatting and image control that Opera has, I’d like to be able to specify at a window-level whether I want javascript, java, etc, running.

Smarter caching. The performance of IE5, for instance, is very poor today. If I’ve specified that something used the cached version, it’d be nice if the browser could check if it differs from the served version in the background and give me a notification and choice to get the new one.

Persistent histories. That window which I spawned three minutes, yesterday, whenever, I’d love to know where it came from. Why should windows lose their history when you close the browser or spawn a new window?

A lot more control. What else?

Building a better web

We need better tools too. WYSIWIG tools today are a complete joke. Both Microsoft and Netscape are working on better solutions, but will they be any good? We need proactive tools.

Tell me not to stuff a page with fat graphics. Tell me that that tag will break this browser. Make it clear how important good microcontent such as Titles and link text is.

Don’t let your users make any more framesets. Face it, frames are evil. They go against two fundamentals of the web, bookmarking and printing. We have a solution tomorrow. It’s called using fixed position Divisions. Netscape 5 will be able to do it. We need the editors to do it too.

Australia in the eyes of the World

It’s there on the front pages of the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, our own Age and News Corporation, and many more. The world knows Australia chose the monarchy. The world knows Australia chose the Queen. The real story lies elsewhere, but that’ll be an immediate public perception now around the world.

We’re now living in an Australia clearly divided. A bit over half voted ‘No’. A bit over half voted ‘Yes’. (BTW I’m part of the 1% that voted informal. No one’s interested in talking about us.) Plenty of people saying that they would’ve voted ‘Yes’ if the question had been about a republic rather than this republic.

It seems ridiculous to think that the Queen will be making a statement to the press about her role in Australia’s future. I say we force John Howard to let her open the Olympic Games. Fuck him, she’s our Head of State. (Johnny should be watching out. The No Campaign wasn’t against a Republic, but against politicians. What a great victory for him that must be.) At least we’re in good company. Elizabeth’s also the Queen of fifteen other nations.

I’m actually surprised by the depth of feeling that’s suddenly come out over this. I’m surprised and kind of happy. This is the Australian way. My friends did quietly pay attention. Now they’re revealing their colors and oft with colorful language. The Age is institutionally attacking the ‘No’ voters and I’m surprised and disappointed by their insipid characterisations. How can the media judge the voter’s intents? Their polls were all over the place last week.

Will we also be racists?

Some of the foreign press managed not to forget the Preamble, usually inserting a short paragraph at the end of their stories. They seem to have the idea that we rejected a Preamble that recognised the Aboriginals. They don’t say much. Have they said to much? What will people think? Will we also be racists in the eyes of the world? And what will we do to make it not be true?

Australia looking to the future

Now that it looks like we’ll remain a monarchy for another decade, let’s look at other solutions to remedy our situation. The Queen has said she’ll do her best to do what’s right by Australia. So I say that we petition the British Government to have her dethroned as the Queen of Britain. They have the power to do that, you know. She’d still be the Queen of Australia (I don’t believe we have any mechanism for removing her. Perhaps under our inherited British laws?) and we could nationalise her. She could swear allegiance to herself! How cool is that? She could live in Queensland.

We learnt a few things under the State of Jeff.

When we nab the Queen I suggest we nab a few more important world features. The Pope; he could live in Adelaide – the City of Churches. A few more Grand Prix; we could deposit them strategically around Victoria and Canberra – no more “coming down the straight” there!

Take our future in our hands. We voted against the Preamble. I’d like to think we whomped Howard. (Better than the alternatives: apathy, racism.) How about this for real move towards reconciliation: we make Albury-Wodonga our capital. Like America, our names are those of the British and the natives of our country, but those names don’t mean much. Let’s make them mean something. The symbolism doesn’t end there. Albury-Wodonga sits astride the might Murray river. Albury-Wodonga bridges NSW and Victoria.

In other news

I propose a unit of measurement for the number of times a reporter to gets a piece of bullshit off of the internet and onto the front page of a respected news source. I dub this unit, the “Ron”, in honour of Ron’s Angels, the subject of a mistake by the New York Times (warning: frames). Clock up too many rons and you’re out.

I hope no one accumulates any rons over anything I say.

The media are getting increasingly sloppy, which is increasingly worrying, as it’s increasingly easy to find out and tell the world that they’re wrong. Go the internet.

Can we value depth over than headlines?

I have a dream

They’re sitting at a restaurant table.

They’re standing outside on the footpath.

They’re waiting for a train.

They’re having a quiet one in the pub.

They’re smoking.

I pull out Dave’s Patented Anti-Personnel Smoke and spray in the fuckers’ direction.

They have to smell like shit for the rest of the day.

They have to cough.

They have to wash their clothes.

Fuck ‘em.

I have a dream.

Oz politics

Like the poor Preamble, the seat of Holt was forgotten by everyone including the AEC in their first ever virtual tallyroom. Polly Morgan is the Science, Technology & Multimedia Spokesperson for the Victorian Democrat and a good friend living in Melbourne. She did quite well in the Holt By-election. (It took me a while to find that out. Fuck knows why the AEC have the Holt By-election results at their Referendum tallyroom.)

Her name looks good in the Two Candidate Preferred box. I expect to see more of that in the future.

My friend Daniel Berk ran the campaign.

Daniel previously ran for the Victorian Upper House seat of Eummemering, while Polly ran for Waverly. Before that Polly ran for the Federal Upper House seat of Hotham (warning: ActiveX).

Like the Doctor, I’m more political than I thought.

Welcome to David’s homepage

In this issue

Introduction

My name’s David Golding, I’m a Victorian IT Consultant. I’m 22 years old. I’d just like to say a thing or two.

Here is a first page, introducing me and this web site. (Ignore the bits about ASCII art. The guy’s an idiot.) Is this a weblog?

Here’s a poem by me to get you in the mood.

Australia in the World

The CIA World Factbook entry on Australia is an interesting read, particularly the section on Government.

We are a monarchy and the world knows it.

Pauline Hanson does have an international profile.

Referendum ’99

First question

First question: do you blah blah blah… Zzzzz. Consider the second question and you’ll realise just how much Johnny Howard doesn’t want a republic. What is this monstrosity we’re forced to read? The first question should have read: DO YOU WANT A REPUBLIC? [Yes] Simple.

So after reading the question and giving it due thought, what did I vote? I voted informally. (Intake of breath, then the crowd goes silent.)

It was always a choice between Yes and Informal. In the aftermath of a State of Kennett I’ve seen just how much Australian politics is a mediated game. I refused to be used by Little Johnny and that despicable Kerry Jones as evidence that Australians Don’t Want A Republic.

But I do want a republic, yeah? So why’d I vote informal? Because the Yes Campaign was unable to convince me that the model given would work. Because they spent all their time playing to the media rather than the people.

Talk to me Kim, Natasha, Mary, Steve. Fuck the media.

Second question

With hope in God… Nope, you’ve lost me there. …never forgetting the sacrifices of all who defended our country and our liberty in time of war… Sorry, but now it sounds like you’re playing to Bruce Ruxton. (Spit.) I’d like changes. The rest was surprisingly good.

But it doesn’t matter, does it? Australians only know they have a Constitution because the Americans have one. They think we have a Bill of Rights too. And Freedom of Speech. Etc. So it doesn’t matter. But…

It’s just a sop, isn’t it? It’s just a misguided young Aboriginal Democrat playing into the hands of Evil John (oh how he must have rejoiced). It’s a double whammy. It confuses the real issue of the referendum while making Johnny look like the Big Reconciliator.

I said No.

John Howard

John Howard is a humble man. He refuses greatness. It’s offered to him on a plate.

Reconciliation, East Timor, Tax Reform, the Republic…

Johnny just says, “No thanks, I’ve already eaten.” Humble pie. It’s obviously not his place to change the course of history passed to him. Little Johnny lives in the shadow of others.

Fucking damn John I hope your God damns you to hell for not Standing Up.

Sorry

An expression of regret is not an apology.
An expression of regret is not an apology.
An expression of regret is not an apology.

Governments do not go in and out of power, only the men and women who work for them. The Australian Government has done terrible things to some of its people and must say sorry.

The Australian Government represents the Australian people.

We must learn our history. We must undertand how our Government works.

Remembrance Day

First question, redux

Why is that old men with medals have been selling red poppies for the last couple of weeks? Remembrance Day is still the better part of a week away now.

It occurred to me yesterday. The red poppies are a potent yet subtle symbol for the No Campaign. We died for King and Country, for that Flag – the Union Jack, we died… Vote No…

Fuck you. Fucking die already. We don’t need this poison.

Second question

Where do I buy a white poppy?

The significance of Poppy Day gives an ambivalent overview of the commemmoration. Swear to yourself this day at 11 o’clock, that never again … shall the peace and happiness of the world fall into the murderous hands of a few cynical old men.

Understand. Rail! Rail! if only in your head. Understand.

Third question

Never again. Never again? Never again. Sure?

If we forget then it could happen again. Read about last year’s Queer Remembrance Day and wonder if ever again…

The Holocaust Today

Konzentrationslager is a disturbing experience, not for the faint-hearted. Polish artist Zbigniew Libera has constructed Concentration Camp Lego sets.

What do you think? What do you have to say?

.AU

Remember what I said about understanding how government works? Well, I’m unable to read law, so I’m at a bit of a disadvantage. I wish laws were friendlier.

According to Electronic Frontiers Australia next year Australia will become subject to a internet censorship law that will attach small businesses and private citizens. It’s infeasible to enforce properly, but that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.

Would Konzentrationslager be allowed to be displayed under these laws? Would Rich Prekodravac’s art? Would this page? And it’s not just the web. Everything will be censored except email.

I’m worried that this law will sit like a rusty bear trap under autumn leaves, randomly biting the feet off people who are walking by themselves. And how many more laws out there don’t I understand? And how many have I never heard of? Anyone who says they never disobey the law is a liar.

Art Australian

Richard Prekodravac is a contemporary artist and good friend of mine living in Sydney. I’d like to give some pointers to some of his work on the web.

The Prologue to Transit (242kB) is an early work, visually adapting the works of Ben Aaronovitch. (The Prelude to Transit by Ben Aaronovitch is related to this piece and both relate to themes I’ve talked about today.)

Inner City Slumming is housed on the artist’s own web site, well worth a look around.

This is his latest work to hit the web. (Ignore the accompanying text which is unrelated and the work of a juvenile mind.)

a first page, introducing Dave

+++ the aknyra différance +++

Only that the question must remain open‘ — (Derrida)

Hi!  Molo!  G’day!  Hey!

How do you come to the world of writing online?

I come to the world of writing online from many directions.  I rushed online
in ’95 when I arrived at University.  When’s that?  Well, I remember, um,
only 2000 newsgroups, and backgrounds being introduced to Netscape.  I’ve
been telling tales for as long as I can remember
, one way or another
<1>.
Role-playing narratives in the playground, copying icons in the schoolroom,
rewriting biographies at home.  Reading and reading, which I grew up to find
was a form of writing.  Getting religion, then philosophy, too.  In there I
edited some zines, got my first novel submission rejected and learned maybe
forty languages.  Webpages, newsgroups, email and instant messaging … seem
like natural environments to me
.

<footnote 1>Details to follow later. This is just color.</footnote>

What about weblogs, specifically?

Well, I used to be an avid Slashdotter.  I still peruse Slashdot almost
daily, though I think it’s more a reflex these days, like newsgroups at
their worst became for me.  Addicted?  *Oui*  :)  When they had a feature on
“weblogs” I think I just kicked out like a lot of the mob there.  
Weblogs
are what *webservers* have!
  I think that might have been my then current
job (analysing weblogs) getting to me a bit, but also just label snobbery
which I’m terribly prone too.  </P>

<P>  I came to Slashdot because of Linux.  Eventually I moved to Scripting
News because I have more of an interest in web stuff and then one day found
myself frequenting Robot Wisdom and at least reading the Tomalak’s Realm
channel.  I like the internet and the web: it interests me technically,
politically and creatively.  
Weblogs are a beautiful genre for people like
that
.

What do you hope to say with your blog?

(Think of a fully drunken imitation of Billy Connelly when you say wee
blog.)

Good postermodernist me, I hope to say a lot and not one thing.  I hate
grand narratives, I hate simplification.  I do it all the time
.  I hope the
question will remain open… Shröedinger’s Pandora’s Box!  It’ll come out
quickly I hope.  I mean, I’ll put stuff up, it’s for you to decide if you
want to look.  The Derrida quote is the short motto.  The slightly longer
version is Doctor Who’s philosophy as framed by Magrs and Hoad:
impeach:
to accuse of a crime
to challenge or question
to entangle

Why do you use a lot of ASCII art-like effects rather than more traditional
web techniques?

a _lot_ is relative, isn’t it? heh.

Are there traditional web techniques?  Perhaps in localities – your
Shockwave crowd there – your XML+CSS crowd – etc.  The “language of the web”
has given us all of these different “words”
, it’d be a pity not to use them.
That’s the rationale behind using the “ASCII art” effects. As for the “more
traditional”…  Shockwave I’m not familiar with, ActiveX is a horrible
security risk that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, Java has negative
connotations…  And I only have one set of hands.  Wait and you’ll see some
of those technologies make an appearance, I’m sure.

What are you reading at the moment?

Buffy Season 3 finished last night.  *sniff*  I finished Dave Stone‘s
‘Return to the Fractured Planet’ this morning.  I’m reading ‘Postmodernism
for Beginners
‘.  I’m directly about to proceed to some Austen and
Bottersnikes & Gumbles books and Kurt Vonnegut.  Tori Amos‘s new one and
Anthrax‘s ‘Sound of White Noise’ are getting a lot of play.  There’s just
too much to be said and I’m trying not to try saying it.  Next question.  :)

+   No more questions.  Thankyou.

Coming

“Fans seemlingly blur the boundaries between fact and fiction, speaking of characters as if they had an existence apart from their textual manifestations, entering into the realm of the fiction as if it were a tangible place they can inhabit and explore.” – Henry Jenkins

Lorenzo at Geeklunch made me think about the David Brin article on Star Wars morality. Apparently it got reprinted in a Financial Review. I will rework my original hurried and harried statement. I want to produce a proper rebuttal, plus a few thoughts on living in fictional universes.

I’ve also been rooting around those “in record” CDs. I want to reinstitute a Ben Aaronovitch home page on the web.

And I’ve simply got to get around to getting all those nice piccies (I took with my nice digital camera) off those disks and onto this www.

Beer

“4.9% ALC/VOL, APPROX. 1.4 STANDARD DRINKS”

At Liam’s 22nd I met an SCA member called Jamie. I had a short discussion with him on the merits of Australian beer, a topic broached as I had a Crown Lager in my hand as I tried to filch some of his Kilkenny (nice). This seems to be a common topic recently, as I’ve discussed it with people of British and other foreign extraction.

(Quite frankly, how the Brits can stomach warm beer is beyond me. OTOH they ask why we like beer cold. I suggested that our beer tastes like shit when it’s warm and the rejoinder was that our beer wasn’t good enough to be drunk warm. Fair enough.)

Crown Lager is quite lacking in flavor or texture. As are Light Ice, Ice, Coldies and several other notable Australian beers. Australians seem to like boring beer. I don’t think they can stomach the real flavour [1]. Even my favourite common Victorian grogs, VB and Carlton Draught, are hardly in the company of Guiness or Asahi.

There is, however, I ventured to Jamie, one great Australian beer. In fact, a family of Australian beers, but one would do to prove that we’re not all barbarians. Coopers Best Extra Stout. Our oldest indigenous beer. Of South Australian extract. Strong, dark, delicious.

British, said Jamie. He had a friend who grew up in Britain, used to drink it down the local.

Well, Jamie, you’re wrong. I looked it up. You had me worried. After all, CUB brew Guiness locally, Coopers could easily have expatriate breweries down here. They don’t. Jamie’s friend drank the product of Coopers-licensed breweries up there. Coopers is a proud, tasty Aussie beer. Lovely.

[1] Spelling. :)

[2] It’s the 30th anniversary of the first internet packet transmission. So happy birthday.

Indexing

“The office was darkening now, the environment systems simulating evening despite the total absence of class-three security hazards (or ‘windows’, as they were sometimes known) inside the building.” — Miles

It’s a strange world we live in. There are strange noises in my street — a car, spinning out its wheels, revving, its tyre spinning slick on the wet street. Sounds like special effects. Like an Ad Lib card breaking. Earlier, the clouds… the sky is beautiful and clear in spots, blue. Then white clouds, then darker, overcast… but a clear, perfectly defined arc, seperating the overcast greyness from the truly dark clouds. This is the special effect you’d use if you wanted to show an alien spacecraft cloaked in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Popular fiction

“She’s totally wigged.” – Buffy

I was somewhat disappointed by Tuesday’s episode of Buffy (‘Gingerbread’). It started out really well. All the typical Buffy ingredients actually. (Plus the little thrill of seeing Thania St. John in the credits.) And it had that great bit at the end, where Buffy stakes the demon. And then Xander and Oz fall through the ceiling. But it was too late. All the typical ingredients… it was a The Whole Town Focuses On Some Mania To The Detriment Of The Regular Cast And Then Forgets episode.

Things needed to come to a head, and they might’ve done in style. We seemed to be getting at a real issue. There were echoes of Littleton (which was yet to come). But it came out samey in the wash.

We got Joyce asking what Buffy has achieved, but we didn’t get to grapple with the results of ‘The Wish’. We got a pretty speech from Angel (a convincing performance from David B.) but where was the real follow-through to God’s intervention in the last ep? We got Buffy’s questioning of her supernatural statute of limits, but we didn’t get real monsters. Most of all, we got a town full of people ready to deal with reality, but the dealing was manuafactured.

I feel the breath of The Village Voice down my neck [1]. These are stories by, for and about white middle class people. I feel the suggestion that even our popular fiction is beginning to creak and groan under the pressure — both from the limitation and forays beyond.

[1] Go to Slashdot and do a search on “hellmouth”.

Place

“Yes it’s true, we are immune. We practice fiction and superiority.”

I want to establish a place and a mythology.

I once saw a movie called The Hotel New Hampshire written by a guy called John Irving. You may remember him from such monstrosities as The World According to Garp starring Robin Williams. THNH contained the pertinent piece of advice, “Keep passing the open windows.” Queen wrote a naff song about it. When I came to write my second web site I called it ‘the Open WInDOws’. I guess we’ll never really know why I chose to capitalise those letters. I like neologisms, though, and those letters stuck.

Welcome to my owido.

An owido is a place to feel comfortable, politically. Lawrence Miles has recently reminded me that politics pertains to complex interactions between people in a society. Primarily, I want to feel comfortable here when presenting material to the world, and I want the world to have a certain level of comfort when taking in what I’ve presented.

I love the internet. It’s a place still reeling from the creation of new modes of communication, and waiting in anticipation for yet more. In particular I love the World Wide Web, that nest of HTTP and HTML. Born of scientists, born again through the media [1], waiting to be born yet again. Some people write bad poetry (and even do it for a living), I write web pages (and sometimes even do it for a living).

This is a place with no place, yet some have established places here. It can be a place with no history [2], rumbling along in internet years which, I’m told, are like dog years only more so. It can also be a treasure trove of the past, running in detached time. Potential futures and fundamental realities clawing at each other. It’ll take ten years for the take up of high bandwidth, more for smart bandwidth. The current infrastructure can’t deal with too much of the future, which is a blessing and a curse. We could do everything so much better – but then again, we probably wouldn’t. This is a place to rest and rally our thoughts.

This is an age, we’re reminded again and again, where words have lost their currency. Yet the web is built with words [3]. Home page – a delightful neologism, that a page could be your home. That a page is your home on the world wide web.

You won’t find lists here [4]. This is a place for relaxing and oozing out organically. So you will find teenage and adult themes here [5]. You won’t find SPOILER SPACE here [6]. I’ll need an audience for that. If this is to be any place at all then I’ll need an audience. I hope you will find things here that will make you part of my audience. I hope you’ll be … friends, in the place that I establish.

Friends are different on the internet. In ’96 I went to a B5 video night that Polly was holding at Cesspool. Being that year, I was, of course, a huge fan of Babylon 5. I’d hung out on aus.sf.babylon5. At this video night, we were having a break, and two of the many people I didn’t know where talking about what this stupid David Golding person had been saying about blah subject. I introduced myself at that point. Conversely, that year I sent out a happy birthday greeting to a number of people who’d admitted to having their birthday on the day that the new Doctor Who telemovie was screened in America. One was so chuffed that he sent me a video copy of the telemovie for free.

Friends are always important. I battle with bouts of depression and would kill myself or hurt myself in a possibly more insidious fashion, were it not I have good friends.

Which brings us back to passing the open windows. Sometimes the open windows which we are fearful of are portals of good, not ill. This owido is the one into my heart and mind. Don’t pass it up. Don’t pass up the opportunity to talk.

Welcome to my place.

higs, Dave

[0] :higz: /higz/ pl., see: hig. :hig: /hig/ n., 1. a fluffy hug; 2. a short embrace on parting. v., a short hug, usually with fondness. [etym. see: rec.arts.music.tori-amos]

[1] Marc Andreessen added a tag to HTML – and you’ll be familiar with the media hoopla that’s brung the world wide web to your living room since then. On this new W3, IMG is everything and fuck Obeying Your Thirst. Click here for more, and use the source to see what I mean. This is the web that people say is a new interface or platform. And it is an interface: one that gives unreliable responses to uncertain intents. And it is a platform, albeit one with few sure planks. But it’s certainly a media sensation founded by old men who wish they were younger and young men who wish they were richer. We can do better than that.

[2] Try finding comparative information about two generations of a product on Microsoft’s site for a taste. Those doomed to repeat history fail to learn from it. Hopefully we all do remember who benefits the most from our forgetting our history lessons? The dictator’s favourite tool today is relentless modernity. Surely you don’t want an older version, they ask: upgrade now. Meanwhile they use tunes from the Stones to sell the new release. Well, it is outdated thinking that I can’t like something my father likes. It is a shallow view that new is good. Remember they are the luddites. Remember your history, post-Renaissance person.

[3] “She had known all along that letters were hostile to her. She felt the same way about them.” The words of the Childlike Empress, from The Neverending Story. Gotta be a metaphor in there somewhere, what with the telemedia, Microsoft, etc, pushing the internet in general and the WWW in particular.

[4] I recently thought that The Book of Lists had to be the saddest publication ever under the Doctor Who imprint. Then I thought, maybe we are what we always were, but naked now.

[5] We’re wired oddly, like the little dogs whose eyes are paired with their lobes. Always jumping the wrong way. My friends seem to die when I swear in Toys R Us. My workmates can’t imagine me screaming “you need something wet in your mouth.” I have different values. But I am context sensitive (aren’t we all?) and while a stream of speech may contain forty fuck’n's, swearing in text seems too laborious.

[6] Here be heavy spolier interactions. Even the word, quote, spoiler, unquote, gets my goat at the moment, post-Episode I. Spolier space (a space in all the senses – not just carriage returns in usenet, but a polite avoidance of certain topics in certain company) is not the product of thought police or public hysteria, but generous hearts on both sides of the coin.